ALACHUA – Ray Crone, a physical education instructor at W.W. Irby Elementary School in Alachua, who has been teaching and volunteering with youth sports for over 30 years, is retiring at the close of the current academic year.
“The relationships I’ve made with families here in Alachua, and teaching second generation students has been one of the coolest things in my experience,” Crone said.
Crone has held positions as varried as a middle school math teacher, coach, and referee throughout Alachua County. He has been heavily involved in local youth recreation leagues for decades.
Irby Elementary principal Valdenora Fortner said that Crone will be missed.
“I tell you, one of the biggest things about ‘Coach’ is that he’s truly genuine,” she said. “He cares about the students and has a real passion for what he does.”
The Crone family has a long history of enriching the lives of others in the county. Crone’s father, Buddy, was the physical education teacher at the University of Florida from 1957 to 1988 and was awarded Teacher of the Year before his retirement. Crone’s mother was an elementary administrator in North Carolina and Florida.
“The demands of teaching are great,” Crone said. “I got the teaching gene, but it’s been kind of tough keeping up with all the different championships in different cities. Rarely a week goes by where I don’t get a call from people who need a referee in Lake Butler or Archer, or somewhere else.”
Crone said he looks forward to his golden years because he will be traveling to meet friends all around the country.
“I got a big trip to Montana planned; I leave on June 26, and then Yellowstone, just hitting the road and enjoying it,” he said.
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